December 14th saw the staff of Nazareth Farm host its annual community Christmas Party at the Doddridge County Park! There was music, crafts, games, food, and good cheer aplenty. However, perhaps most notable was the appearance of Santa Claus, yes that’s correct, Ol’ Saint Nick, Mrs. Claus, and an elf made the long trek down from the North Pole to Doddridge County, West Virginia, to share in the joy and love of the season. Each child that came received a new book and a gift from Santa, not to mention the plethora of hats, gloves, scarves, and gently used books from which to choose. None of this, however, would have been possible without the help of 18, yes 18, Friends of the Farm who volunteered their time and talents at the Park that Saturday to ensure everyone felt welcomed, cared for, and loved during a season of the year, in which it is so very easy to get caught up in doing, that the people next to us, our neighbors, can be forgotten altogether.
At the party everyone has a role to play, some served food and cookies to the partygoers, others facilitated games and crafts for those wanting to exercise creative energy, still others engaged those in attendance and assisted them in picking out books, hats, gloves and other items to best suit them, and of course there was the North Pole contingent who spent quality time with each and every child, and those who captured the precious moments with Santa for the families to commemorate this particular Christmas season.
How incredibly absurd to have a party for over 150 strangers on a cold, rainy day in North Central West Virginia! Although, how incredibly absurd is it that we should find ourselves sharing an experience, our human existence with our God, our Savior and Creator?! Jesus forced God back into the story of humanity at Christmas even though we tried our darndest, and still do from time to time, to push God out. Yet, we encounter Christ everyday; some old book tells us that humans were created in the IMAGE and LIKENESS of God. God dwells within each of us, and that divine spark is always burning inside us. So how could we not host a party? How could we not connect people from across the country who couldn’t physically be present to Christ in the faces and stories of those at the party, so they purchased, books, toys, games, and clothing to share? How could we not cook food and bake cookies to share with those who came to the party to provide nourishment to Christ? How could we not take the time out of our full lives in the middle of December, to not spend it at a store, not glued to a screen, but rather with children and adults in wonderful West Virginia, with Christ among us? So, there we were, playing out modern day interpretations of the Magi who offered fruits of their treasure with the baby Christ; like the Shepherds who dropped what they were doing so they could see and visit with their Creator Incarnate and offer their time to their God made flesh. Frankly, that is what Jesus throughout the entirety of the new testament did. He spent time with the other, recognizing God in them, sharing of his time, which was limited, of his talent and his treasure — the love and compassion of God. How could we not make room in our hearts to live as Christ lived and love as Christ loved?
Thank you to all who came to the Party and all who volunteered for being beautiful reminder of the empathetic compassion of Christ. Dorothy Day reminds us that “there is always room for one more..”, and if each of us is Christ living and moving and having our being in the world today, how could there not be room? Merry Christmas, and may the peace and blessings of Jesus, God incarnate, be with you and your loved ones this season and always.